Man admits manslaughter of council worker shot dead in home but denies murder

A man has admitted the unlawful killing of a council worker shot dead at home.

James Witham, 41, pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Ashley Dale, 28, at a Liverpool Crown Court hearing on Thursday, a court spokesman said.

Witham, of Ashbury Road, Huyton, continues to deny murder and is due to stand trial from October 2.

Miss Dale, an environmental health worker for Knowsley Council, was found with a gunshot wound in the back garden of her home in Old Swan, Liverpool, on August 21 last year.

Ashley Dale
Miss Dale, 28, was found with a gunshot wound (Family handout/PA)

Sean Zeisz, 27; Niall Barry, 26; Joseph Peers, 29; and Ian Fitzgibbon, 28, are also charged with murder and are due to stand trial next month alongside Witham and Kallum Radford, who denies assisting an offender.

Miss Dale was one of three people shot dead within a week in Liverpool last year – with nine-year-old Olivia Pratt-Korbel killed in her Dovecot home on August 22 and Sam Rimmer, 22, killed in Dingle on August 16.